The Department provides graduate instruction in the form of reading seminars, research seminars, and independent study courses.
Reading Seminars constitute the heart of graduate instruction in history. They introduce students to historical literature and controversies pertaining to particular historical periods or topics, and they prepare Ph.D. students for qualifying exams. The approach may be historiographical, chronological, topical, or a mixture of these. The Department also offers five basic historiography courses that serve to introduce students to changing historical interpretations. Although historiography courses are run as reading seminars, they are counted as distinct for purposes of degree requirements.
Research Seminars train students to engage in independent historical research. In some seminars students may choose their topics within a broad chronological period. Regardless of the approach used, the emphasis is upon original research, evaluation of sources, and the ability to write a coherent, sustained paper in clear prose. Group discussion and evaluation of papers constitute important components of the research seminar.
Independent Study courses, numbered HIST666 and/or HIST866, consist of reading or research projects undertaken with faculty supervision. There are two types of HIST666 courses and HIST866 are used for a research project option.
- Some are attached to advanced undergraduate lecture courses. A student taking such an independent study course attends the lectures and fulfills all the undergraduate assignments, and in addition meets on a regular basis with the professor -- and often with other graduate students as well -- to discuss supplementary readings. The student is also expected to perform additional written work. This kind of HIST666 component of an undergraduate lecture course constitutes a "mini-seminar" at the graduate level.
- In HIST666 courses that are not attached to undergraduate lecture courses, students engage in directed independent reading and/or research. Students seeking to enroll in such courses, which are most appropriate for those working at the Ph.D. level or specializing in areas of study not normally covered by departmental Course offerings, must secure permission of the Chair of the Graduate Studies Committee.